Your Trash Unwrapped
Did you know that every person in the United States creates about 4.5lbs of garbage every day? That is equivalent to 1,643 pounds a year! But where does it all go once you throw it away? Introducing Trash Unwrapped. A blog series dedicated to getting your garbage or recycling questions answered.
So, once your throw your trash away and take out the garbage, now what? Well simply put, it’s in your neighborhood trash man or lady’s hands. From there, your trash typically makes its way to a Transfer Station, or in some cases, an Energy Recovery facility. If taken to a Transfer Station, the trash will be sorted and then re-transferred to its final destination. Sometimes this is a landfill where waste is buried and left to decompose. This process can take hundreds if not thousands of years.
Another option is an Incinerator or Energy Recovery Facility. This is where your garbage is burned into ash and heat—often times to generate energy. For every 10 garbage trucks filled with trash, only one will remain (filled with ash) after going through the burning process. The hot, burning trash heats up pipes overhead filled with water, which then turn into steam. This steam activates generators that give the plant, (and sometimes those nearby, residents or hospitals), energy to use.
The last option is that trash is taken to a recycling center where it will be transferred to a manufacturing plant so materials can be used to make new products. Pretty cool right?
If not properly disposed, waste can end up harming the environment and polluting our air and water. Who wants that? This is why it’s so important that we put our trash into the proper containers.
Here are 10 simple everyday things you can do to lessen your trash build-up:
- Recycle Glass. Recycled glass reduces related air pollution by 20 percent and related water pollution by 50 percent. If it isn’t recycled it can take a million years to decompose.
- Use one less paper napkin. During an average year, an American uses approximately 2,200 napkins—around six each day. If everyone in the U.S. used one less napkin a day, more than a billion pounds of napkins could be saved from landfills each year.
- Use both sides of paper. American businesses throw away 21 million tons of paper every year, equal to 175 pounds per office worker. For a quick and easy way to halve this, set your printer’s default option to print double-sided (duplex printing). And when you’re finished with your documents, don’t forget to take them to the recycling bin.
- Recycle newspaper. There are 63 million newspapers printed each day in the U.S. Of these, 44 million, or about 69%, of them will be thrown away. Recycling just the Sunday papers would save more than half a million trees every week.
- Rethink bottled water. Nearly 90% of plastic water bottles are not recycled, instead taking thousands of years to decompose. Buy a reusable container and fill it with tap water, a great choice for the environment, your wallet, and possibly your health. The EPA’s standards for tap water are more stringent than the FDA’s standards for bottled water.
- Plant a tree. It’s good for the air, the land, can shade your house and save on cooling (plant on the west side of your home), and they can also improve the value of your property. Make it meaningful for the whole family and plant a tree every year for each member.
- Recycle unwanted wire hangers. Wire hangers are generally made of steel, which is often not accepted by some recycling programs. So what do you do with them? Most dry cleaners will accept them back to reuse or recycle.
- Recycle aluminum. Twenty recycled aluminum cans can be made with the energy it takes to manufacture one brand new one.
- Reduce junk mail (including paper bank statements). Feel like you need to lose a few pounds? It might be your junk mail that’s weighing you down. The average American receives 40 pounds of junk mail each year, destroying 100 millions trees. There are many services that can help reduce the clutter in your mailbox, saving trees and the precious space on your counter tops.
- Plastic bags stink. Each year the U.S. uses 84 billion plastic bags, a significant portion of the 500 billion used worldwide. They are not biodegradable, and are making their way into our oceans, and subsequently, the food chain. Stronger, reusable bags are an inexpensive and readily available option.
Do you have any additional suggestions on how to cut down on waste? If so, let us know in the comment section.
Tom Cherry, CEO and Founder of Remyndr